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The temptation to spoil your dog with all manner of treats (and sneaky bites of your own dinner) is always high - after all, every good boy deserves great dog food. But just as we watch our own nutrition, and our families, we also have to keep an eye on our dog’s diet, modulating it to match their age, activity levels, and (apologies) bowels.
There’s a plethora of dog food available out there - not all of it is created equal. And while cheaper food is tempting, it can be a false economy: after all, there’s few things more expensive than a dog with recurrent health problems. A good diet can prevent that.
So what should you be buying for your pup?
Dry, wet, or raw dog food: what is each for?
Dry dog food covers off biscuits, kibble, and pellets, whereas wet food tends to be tinned or in a pouch and comes in a gravy or jelly sauce. Raw dog food is predominantly meat, and often comes frozen.
Dry dog food is great for ensuring complete nutrition in one meal - less water means a high concentration of nutritionally rich ingredients. It’s easier to store, lasts longer, and is less expensive than the other options.
Wet food is more appealing for most dogs thanks to its meaty chunks and gravy. Its high water content is great for older dogs, who need more hydration. It’s less suitable for puppies, who need more nutrients in their foods.
A raw food diet is particularly good if you have a dog that has smelly flatulence - the switch to raw food is known to often put paid to this (let’s be frank, disgusting) issue. Most raw dog food is ‘complete’ - that is, contains all the nutrients required for your dog in one meal. The catch - as you’d expect - is that raw food diets are usually pricey.
Dogs thrive on meat
Sorry about this - we’re only too aware of the benefits of a vegan diet and why we should all be more plant-based for the sake of the planet. However, in terms of the nutritional requirements dogs have, they are far more easily met with meat proteins than plant proteins.
Dietary deficiencies in dogs can lead to disease and malnourishment, so this is important. In order to best ensure your canine friend’s continued good health, try and keep a balance of animal and plant-derived proteins.
What to do if your dog is a food snob
We’ve all met them: those dogs that turn their muzzle up at the prospect of any new food stuff. If you need to alter their diet, though, the best way is to go slowly - small quantities of a new food is the way forward. Treat it as you would a toddler - don’t cave in and give them something more palatable if they refuse your offering.
The best dog foods available
Best for: dogs on a diet
Dogs on a diet, much like their human counterparts, can be somewhat grumpy (fair enough) but Pooch & Mutt’s Slim and Slender dry dog food has kept our grandmother’s beloved pooch satisfied as it ‘reduced’.
45 per cent chicken, and bulked out with sweet potato and pea protein, it’s nutrient dense but designed to ensure canine satiety (human dieters may know how good chicken and sweet potato is for keeping you full).
A complete food, it’s all your dog needs at each meal. It also contains a supplement - ‘nutra-bionic’ - designed to help keep your dog’s skin and coat glossy, their stools less smelly, and their digestive system healthy.
Best for: a tailored subscription service for your dog
If you want to spoil your doggy without being detrimental to their health, a tailored delivery service is the ideal way of ensuring their nutritional needs are met, as well as their canine taste buds.
Tails is a fabulous subscription service that will leave your dog wagging their tails in delight. Start by filling out a quiz to identify a personalised dog food diet - you can identify if your pet is a fussy eater, older, immobile, or has health concerns.
The dishes produced are tailored to suit your dog, and include wholefoods, from salmon, chicken, to root vegetables. From slow-cooked wet food, tailor-made kibble, to supplements and treats, the food is terrific.
Prices start at £10.44 a month for a smaller dog (increasing proportionately as dogs get larger), with the food delivered to your door. It truly takes the fuss out of feeding your dog well.
Best for: dogs with poor digestive systems
If your dog suffers from diarrhoea and has a trouble digestive system, this low-fat kibble is gently on a stressed stomach while also being energy-dense enough to ensure your dog receives the requisite amount of nutrition.
It has more easily digestible proteins than regular dog food, and is fortified with fish oils and pulps to help aid digestion. The high caloric content ensures growing dogs will get the energy they need even when given smaller portion sizes, which also gives your dog’s digestive system a rest.
Noteworthy: this dog food is also suitable for dogs with acute and chronic pancreatitis, hyperlipidaemia, lymphangiectasia - exudative, enteropathy, gastritis, oesophagitis, Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI).
Best for: dry dog food - mix.
This complete dry dog food mix from James Wellbeloved also boasts an impressively high meat content.
Simply yet tasty, it’s a hypoallergenic dog food - no ingredients that are likely to upset the stomachs of sensitive canines.
With 26 per cent turkey, it’s also bulked out with pearl rice and crunchy oats, for energy. Reasonably priced for a 7.5kg bag; depending on the size of your dog, a bag can last anywhere between six and eight weeks.
Best for: dry dog food - kibble
A crunchy kibble, this reasonably priced dry dog food has an impressive quantity of meat (for dry dog food). With 30 per cent dried chicken and turkey, and augmented with omegas 3 and 6 for a shiny coat.
Best for: raw dog food
Venison nuggets, you may cry, noting that you don’t even eat that well each night, let along your dog. Well, put that quibble aside - these nuggets are beloved by dogs, but also great for their health.
80 per cent venison, these nuggets are crammed full of proteins, but rounded out with seaweed, spinach, carrots, peas and swede to aid digestive health. They come frozen - all you have to do is thaw to serve.
Beyond the health benefits, we know the owner of a Staffordshire cross that swears blind that switching their dog from dry food to a raw food diet - including these nuggets - stopped its toxic flatulence, which has previously been rendering their flat uninhabitable. Life changing.
Best for: puppies on the grow
Superfood for puppies, Pooch & Mutt grain-free is gently on new stomachs, but packed with great proteins to keep your new acquisition healthy and growing.
A dry food that you mix together with water to form a thick gruel, it’s wildly popular with doggies. Contains chicken, sweet potato, peas, salmon oil, cranberry, spinach and more - an impressive complete meal for a wee dog that will promote healthy muscle growth and a glossy coat.
Best for: elder dogs
Older dogs need food with a high protein content, as their musculature starts to atrophy, and protein helps retain muscle mass. Food with around 27 per cent is what you’re on the look out for.
Additionally, you want food lower in calories than for a dog in the prime of their life, and easy on the kidneys. Try and find food fortified with glucosamine, which will help with joints - particularly if your dog is on the huskier side.
This senior citizen dog food is grain-free, so easier on digestive tracts, as well is lower on carbohydrates and fats - so not as high in calories as other dog food. It is always at least 31 per cent protein, too. It’s good for senior dogs of all sizes.
Best for: variety
Lily’s Kitchen are wildly popular purveyors of nutritionally rich dog food. Their World Dishes multipack is ideal if you want your canine to enjoy a varied, delectable diet.
All wet food, the multipack is made up of dog-friendly versions of international dishes - from Coronation Chicken, to Hungarian Goulash and Moroccan Tagine. Ideal for dogs with gourmand tastes - with 10 per cent protein in each serving, these are best suited for dogs in the prime of their life.
Best for: a pedigree pup
If nothing but the best will do for your dog, they’ll adore ZiwiPeak Venison, made by New Zealand brand ZiwiPeak with a view to emulate a ‘wild-prey diet’ - that is, what wolves in the wild. In nutritional terms, that translates to high protein and fat, with limited carbs, and minimal processing to preserve the meat’s integrity.
ZiwiPeak Venison is made from premium quality Kiwi venison - lean, grass-fed venison -which is easily digested, and contains high levels of chondroitin and glucosamine to support joint health and long term mobility for your dog.
It appeals to dogs with sensitive stomachs, and fussy palates.